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China fines foreign makers of eyeglasses and contact lens for price fixing

China has fined Johnson & Johnson, Nikon and five other foreign makers of eyeglasses and contact lenses on price-fixing charges in its latest effort to use anti-monopoly law to control consumer prices.

The national planning agency said manufacturers were fined a total of 19 million yuan ($3.1 million) for setting minimum prices for retailers and limiting their ability to offer discounts.

Other companies fined included Essilor, Zeiss, Hoya, Bausch + Lomb, and Weicon.

Setting minimum prices is common in some markets to help companies maintain an image as a premium brand. But lawyers say Chinese regulators appear to regard such limits on distributors as illegal.

In August, six foreign suppliers of baby formula were fined a total of $109 million on similar charges.